It may still seem like Christmas is a long way off but in fact it is just around the corner and now is the perfect time to be making your Christmas cake. The key to a truly scrumptious Christmas cake is making it well in advance and ‘feeding’ it regularly with brandy or rum if you prefer (if you are wanting to keep the cake alcohol free, freshly squeezed orange juice makes a lovely alternative!)
First of all you should begin by placing all the fruit for your cake in a large bowl – this will include currants, sultanas, raisins, glacé cherries and candied peel. Mix in a few tablespoons of brandy, cover the bowl and leave overnight. This allows the alcohol to soak into the fruit making it plum and juicy!
To make the cake itself you will need to cream together unsalted butter and soft brown sugar until pale and fluffy, then add to this your beaten eggs a little at a time. When all the egg has been added, sift in plain flour and freshly grated nutmeg with ground mixed spice. To combine the mixture together you will need to gently fold the dry ingredients in to ensure you keep as much air in the mix as possible. Add the soaked fruits to the cake mixture along with the zest of an orange and a lemon and a dessertspoon or 2 of treacle. You will need to add the mix to a pre-lined cake tin and then wrap the outside of the tin with brown paper. Pop the cake into a pre-heated oven and cook for approximately 4-5 hours! Once your cake is cooked, allow to cool fully before storing away in an air tight container. Now for the trick which keeps your cake amazingly moist, ‘feed’ it with brandy, rum or orange juice once a fortnight until Christmas! Beautiful!
There are variations on the traditional Christmas cake and of course you can include any extras you might want, such as almonds or macadamia nuts and other spices. Many people leave the cake as it is or alternatively you can ice the cake, a standard royal icing would usually be used here. For that extra layer you can also include marzipan underneath the icing!
Different countries have their own take on Christmas cake, such as Stollen in Germany, Whisky Dundee cake in Scotland and Panettone in Italy. If you’re feeling adventurous why not try making one of these for something a little bit different! It may seem like a lot of effort to make your own Christmas cake when you could simply pop to the shop and buy one, but when you take the first bite of a delicious homemade cake, it will be well worth it! The proof certainly is in the pudding!